Trees and Tones - Wooden Instrument Traditions: Pau –Brasil Tree

Presentation | November 18 | 4-6:30 p.m. |  UC Botanical Garden

 Botanical Garden

Perhaps one of the most emblematic stories and relationships between a tree and classical music is that of the Pau–Brasil tree (Caesalpinia echinata) and its use in making violin and cello bows. We’ll hear from Zac Cande on the conservation issues around the tree and will also be joined by Lisa Grodin, faculty member of the Crowden School and violinist who will compare baroque and modern bows.

Zac Cande is a professor emeritus of plant cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley (in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology and Department of Molecular and Cell Biology). He is also an amateur cellist. He became interested in the history and biology of the unique wood, called pernambuco by bow makers, that is used to make violin and cello bows. Caesalpina echinata or Pau Brazil is the national tree of Brazil. It is an endangered tree species that grows in the Atlantic Rain Forest along the coast of Brazil.

Lisa Grodin began teaching, conducting, and coaching ensembles at the Crowden School in 1985, and was appointed Director of Music in 2004. In 2009 she was hired as Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra's Director of Education. Lisa has served on the faculty of the Young Musicians Program at the University of California, Berkeley, and has given masterclasses and lecture recitals at the Colburn School, UC Berkeley, University of Arizona, and in schools and museums throughout the California Gold Country through a grant from the California Arts Council.

Biocultural diversity can be defined as the inextricable link between biological diversity and cultural diversity. An area where this relationship is distinctively exemplified is in musical traditions from around the world. This fall, as a part of our “Year of Trees” programming, the UC Botanical Garden is hosting a four-part series that highlights the relationship between music and plants as seen in instrument making and musical traditions throughout the world. We start the series with a feature on African Blackwood (Dalbergia melanoxylon) also known as Mpingo, the tree that is used in making oboes and clarinets. We then move into the stories of guitars (from classical and folk perspectives), Indian classical instruments, such as sitars and tamburas and their fascinating use of woods and gourds, and we end the series understanding the conservation concerns of Pernambuco or Pau-Brasil (Caesalpinia echinata) and its unique use in the making of violin and cello bows. This series will bring together luthiers, scholars, botanists and musicians to take part in an important discussion around raising awareness of plants in our daily lives.

 $40 / $35 UCBG Member / $20 student

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